Corcoran Gallery of Art
The Corcoran Gallery of Art is the largest privately supported cultural institution in Washington, DC. The museum's main focus is American art. The permanent collection includes works by Rembrandt, Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Thomas Gainsborough, John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Gene Davis, and many others. There are always several exhibitions on display, regularly featuring contemporary work on the second floor with modern and early American work on the first floor. The Corcoran is the oldest and largest non-federal art museum in the District of Columbia. Its mission is to be "dedicated to art and used solely for the purpose of encouraging the American genius."

When the gallery was founded in 1869 by William Wilson Corcoran, the co-founder of Riggs Bank, it was one of the first fine art galleries in the country. Corcoran established the gallery, supported with an endowment, "for the perpetual establishment and encouragement of the Fine Arts." The Corcoran Gallery of Art was originally located at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, in the building that now houses the Renwick Gallery. Construction of that building started before the Civil War. The building, near completion, was used by the government as a warehouse during the Civil War. It was finally completed in 1874 and the gallery opened to the public. By 1897, the Corcoran Gallery collection outgrew the space of its original building. A new building was constructed, designed by Ernest Flagg in a Beaux-Arts style. The building spans 135,000 square feet (12,500 m²). A proposed addition by Frank O. Gehry would have more than doubled the museum's size, but the plan was scrapped due to funding problems in the summer of 2005. The museum and its affiliated art and design college Corcoran College of Art and Design together have a staff of about 185 and an operating budget of about $20 million. Revenue comes from various sources, including grants and contributions, admissions fees, tuition, membership dues, gift shop and restaurant sales, and an endowment currently worth around $30 million. In February 2001, two AOL executives ( Robert W. Pittman and Barry Schuler) and their wives donated $30 million to the museum, its largest single donation since its founding.

Mapplethorpe Scandal
In 1989, the Corcoran Gallery of Art had agreed to host a traveling solo exhibit of Mapplethorpe's works, without making a stipulation as to what type of subject matter would be used. Mapplethorpe decided to show a new series that he had explored shortly before his death, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment curated by Janet Kardon of the Institute of Contemporary Art. The hierarchy of the Corcoran and several members of Congress were horrified when the works were revealed to them, and the museum refused to go forth with the exhibit. There was a public protest. In June 1989, pop artist Lowell Blair Nesbitt became involved with a scandal involving Mapplethorpe's work. It was at this time that Nesbitt, a long-time friend of Mapplethorpe, revealed that he had a $1.5 million bequest to the museum in his will. Nesbitt publicly promised that if the museum refused to host the exhibition he would revoke his bequest. The Corcoran refused and Nesbitt bequeathed the money to the Phillips Collection instead. After the Corcoran refused the Mapplethorpe exhibition, the underwriters of the exhibition went to the nonprofit Washington Project for the Arts, which showed the controversial images in its own space from July 21 - August 13, 1989, to large crowds. The 1990 NEA Appropriations Bill included language against "obscene" work. Artists canceled exhibitions. The director Christina Orr-Cahall resigned and moved to the Norton Museum of Art.

Museum hours are as follows: Monday: Closed Tuesday: Closed Wednesday: 10:00am”“5:00pm Thursday: 10:00am”“9:00pm Friday: 10:00am”“5:00pm Saturday: 10:00am”“5:00pm Sunday: 10:00am”“5:00pm Adult admission is $10.00. Admission for seniors and students is $8.00. Children under 12 and gallery members enjoy free admission. More information is available on the gallery's admissions website.

Building Activity

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